, the Government of Belize and Fortis announced that they’d reached an agreement to settle on compensation after Government took over BEL in 2011
–acquiring Fortis’s 70% controlling interest in the power company. Government said it saved over a hundred million dollars in the settlement. But today
when the settlement went to the House of Representatives for approval and debate the opposition was not convinced. And neither were they impressed with
the Prime Minister’s math:..
Hon. Dean Barrow - Prime Minister
"As mandated by the constitution of this country, confirm and underlined that now and forever more BEL in the majority will belong to the people and
government of this country. 70 million dollars for 37% of BEL, in return for this 70 million government actually gets a value of 131 million dollars;
because that is what 37% of BEL shareholding was worth according to the audited financial at the close of 2014 financial year. What is there not to
like? And what’s there not to get?"
"If we're paying 70 million dollars now, for shares that are worth 131 million dollars; this represents a 61 million dollar clear net gain for the
people of this country. And what it means is that the settlement is now conferring on the people of Belize again that with respect to its value in cash
and shares amounts to 75 million dollars. That is what we're walking away from the table with."
"Now if you want to go back again to the valuation of what they receive by way of the shares based on the 2014 year end book value. At the close of
2014, that 33 and a third percent that Fortis is getting back was valued at 117.9 million. So even if you want to look at it in the least possible
favourable light to the government; then you can say we've given them 33 and a third percent back, that amounts to 117.9 million. And then we 've given
them the 70 million; so call that a total of 188 million for the entirety of the shareholding - if you're going to put a value on the 33 and a third
percent that they get back on shares. And that means that the government in the framework of that kind of analysis would have saved the people of
Belize anywhere from 120 million dollars to 200 million dollars; depending on your estimate of the cost, interest and perhaps damages.
Hon. Said Musa - Area Representative, Fort George
"She's pretty now, Fortis is pretty now. With so much so that the prime minister wants Fortis as a partner to own BEL. And that is why he's returning
as part of this settlement 33% of this company to Fortis International. So she's pretty now."
"And now the day of reckoning has come because the Caribbean Court of Justice is about to make a ruling; was about to make a ruling very shortly. And
so we're being rushed now with indecent haste to make this settlement with Fortis and BEL."
"Now he can play around with figures all day but as the leader of the opposition rightly pointed out, the government is settling at a premium; they're
paying a premium to have this settlement. He's also agreed to every conceivable tax exemption be granted to Fortis International. And indeed not only
to Fortis but to anybody that may buy the shares from Fortis; any transferee of Fortis of that 33% will enjoy the very same total absolute full
exemption, stamp duty, income tax, business tax, exchange control fees; every conceivable, every fee you can imagine, every impost you can imagine Mr.
Speaker is being granted to Fortis. They will not pay a cent."
"Even when he's eating crow, even when he has to swallow is own vomit he's handling it very well; despite his very obvious physical ailments at this
Hon. Michael Finnegan - Area Representative, Mesopotamia
"When they do business and when they were in government and there were the Michael Ashcroft deals; and Jeffrey Prosser deals and this ya deal and that
ya deal. You know which lawyer benefit from it? Musa and Balderamos. You know the other set of lawyers that benefit from it Mr. Speaker? Courtney and
"Why they don't say to you sir and to this honourable house that when business go from this government and end up in Barrow and Company that Andrew
Marshalleck, the number one partner to Dennys Barrow is taking a mighty chunk of whatever Barrow and Company make. They don't tell you that. Who is the
advisor to my very good friend; you know he is my good friend and I like him a lot, the member from Cayo South. He is the legal advisor to my friend
from Cayo South. Nothing wrong with that, Andrew is also a very brilliant lawyer; but don't come to this honourable house and try blaspheme Dennys
Barrow's name and make everybody believe that Dennys Barrow get all this job for government; and he the collect millions of dollars and the millions
going in poor brother Barrow's pocket one and brother Barrow one the eat. Unno make it known that Andrew, his wife and other PUP lawyers that are
participants in Barrow and Company are taking their rightful pound of flesh."
"You know what unno mi say? Oh we have millions of dollars hang over the head of the Belizean public. Where will they get the money to pay back BEL and
where will they get back the money to pay for BTL. They will never get the money to pay BTL when the time come back to pay the white man them. Where
the money will come from? Well Barrow just find 75 million dollars to pay them."
Hon. Julius Espat - Area Representative, Cayo South
"The legal fees are in excess of tens of millions of dollars; tens of millions of dollars. And if he wants to refute it they tell us how much it is. I
know it's over 10 million. Why is it that the prime minister does not want the rule of law to be done in this country or to be followed in this
country? Why is it that he refuses to have any accountability in his decision? Why it is that transparency is just a word that he utilizes? It is
because of the multimillion dollar benefits his family gets, that’s one of the reasons. After this agreement is signed, Fortis can now transfer their
shares to BECOL."
"Mr. Speaker we buy 60% of our power from BECOL and just by them having this exemption on taxes alone; you're talking that the Belizean people will be
deprived of hundreds and hundreds of millions of dollars. And that is why Fortis and their attorneys agreed to the prime minister's presentation. It is
not because they love him, it is because they have fooled him. It is because he is in bed with the agreement so that he and his brothers can make money
from the settlement and Fortis takes home hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of millions of dollars."
"And so Mr. Speaker, Dean Barrow is not only doing this, he is also making these tax exemptions go well beyond his term in office; and I apologise to
the Honourable prime minister, which area you come from? Queen Square. That is the reality Mr. Speaker and the people have to see him for what he his.
What a shame prime minister, what an evil plot devised by an evil person. And I do congratulate you by the way for the deal, I do congratulate you that
you are doing this for your personal gain and I do congratulate you because this will be the end of your term in office."
Hon. Dean Barrow - Prime Minister
"I will not treat with the member for Cayo South except to say this; A long time ago and I really ought to have employed it in the case of the member
of Cayo South before now. Long time ago I heard somebody say never wrestle with a pig. Never wrestle with a pig; because you both get dirty but the pig
likes it. You that don't like it can't win. Never wrestle with a pig, you both get dirty but the pig likes it. So last words to the member for Cayo
South; Mr. Pig I refuse to join you in the mud."
"Now there has been a lot of talk about lawyers and who gets paid for what. Both the leader of the opposition and the member for Fort George are
lawyers. I will make the point from now that in retaining the law firm of Barrow and Company, in retaining Dennys Barrow; and this is what Mr. Pig
utterly misquotes. I have always insisted that he is the best lawyer in this country. And so I will make no apologies for retaining him with respect to
these very complex complicated legal matters where the government is entitled and requires the best possible legal representation."
"When Dennys Barrow was being paid to represent us at least he was on the side of the angels. He da no vendepatrias, he da no vendepatrias. And to say
that I am eating crow by welcoming back Fortis, he's missing the fundamentals in this equation isn't he the leader of the opposition. Fortis is roundly
being welcomed back by me but on different terms. On terms that completely favour the national interest, the government and people of our beloved